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Sleep loss can increase the chances of obesity

A lack of sleep has been shown to increase weight gain due to its effects on energy metabolism.

In the modern world, it is extremely hard to balance a sleep schedule with completing work and other factors. The underlying cause of increased obesity risk from sleep disruption is unclear but may relate to changes in appetite, metabolism, motivation, physical activity or a combination of factors. There have been studies it appears there is a correlation between lack of sleep and increased weight gain.

‘Dr Christian Benedict from Uppsala University, Sweden and his group have conducted a number of human studies to investigate how sleep loss may affect energy metabolism. These human studies have measured and imaged behavioural, physiological and biochemical responses to food following acute sleep deprivation. The behavioural data reveal that metabolically healthy, sleep-deprived human subjects prefer larger food portions, seek more calories, exhibit signs of increased food-related impulsivity, experience more pleasure from food, and expend less energy.’

Their studies have shown that certain hormones that increase hunger are produced more in sleep deprived individuals. Sleep restriction also increased levels of endocannabinoids, which is known to have appetite-promoting effects. Further work from Dr Benedict’s team shows that acute sleep loss alters the balance of gut bacteria, which has been widely implicated as key for maintaining a healthy metabolism.

Dr Christian Benedict remarks, “Since perturbed sleep is such a common feature of modern life, these studies show it is no surprise that metabolic disorders, such as obesity are also on the rise.”

There is no long-term data on the effect of sleep deprivation on weight gain but it is estimated that it will have a similar effect over prolonged periods of time.

Dr Christian Benedict says, “My studies suggest that sleep loss favours weight gain in humans. It may also be concluded that improving sleep could be a promising lifestyle intervention to reduce the risk of future weight gain.”